Eight Qualities of Competent Managers

Frustrated with an 8 to 15 record during the first several weeks in May, I had just about given up on the Twins. Then they started to right things, and I climbed back on the bandwagon.

Some of my friends weren’t as patient. Their grumbling began earlier in the season and they have yet to join me on that proverbial moving cart. The team’s performance has shaken their faith in the team and its coaches, which explains their proclamation that even they could manage the team better.

But let me say this about managing. Even though anyone who watches professional sports has probably thought at some point, “Man, I could manage like that,” or, maybe “Man, I could manage better than that,”  the truth is, being a manager — of a professional sports team or in a business — is probably one of the most difficult gigs you can imagine. It requires that you mesh all kinds of managerial competencies into one.

What It Takes to Be a Good Manager
I’ve written about what makes good managers in the past. But sometimes, the best way to make this information understandable is not to tell you, but to show you. Here are CEOs whose leadership styles serve as good examples of eight competencies I feel are especially important for a manager to possess:

1)  Good communication skills
Talk to Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, and he’ll tell you his company is not in the coffee business. He says that selling coffee is just a way to facilitate excellence in the business Starbucks is really in: the people business. Starbucks, he says, is all about the human connection whether that human connection is with its customers or with the company’s team members. Schultz does an excellent job of communicating what the product stands for thereby creating one of the most valuable brands in the world.

2)  Strong leadership skills
Translate tomorrow’s vision into today’s activities and you will have mastered a large part of leadership. When Meg Whitman, now CEO of Hewlett Packard, took the reins at eBay in 1998, she had plans to grow the company’s revenues and immediately executed strategies to do that. She reorganized eBay’s management structure, and acquired PayPal and Skype. As a result, eBay grew from $4 billion to $8 billion in revenue under her leadership.

3)  Able and willing to adapt to change
I don’t know about you, but I marvel at anyone who makes changes easily. Especially those who proactively make changes rather than react to change. Take Marissa Mayer. As new Yahoo CEO, Mayer stepped into a company desperately needing a strategy to move it forward. Mayer has already started implementing a plan to form more partnerships and now Yahoo’s home page is connected to users’ Facebook accounts, providing more personalized content.

4)  Good relationship-building skills
We can learn many leadership skills from Bob Igler, Disney’s CEO. One of the most impressive, however, is the importance of reconciling differences. Before Igler stepped into his leadership role, warring egos and board intrigue rocked this entertainment giant. Now it's posting record earnings, and its stock prices are climbing. Internal disagreements and issues tear companies down faster than any external factor. Igler demonstrates how important it is to resolve these issues quickly.

5)  Ability to manage tasks effectively
Like it or not, none of us can do it all. Effective managers know this and they are not afraid to ask for help to get things done. That’s how they manage tasks effectively. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example, brought Sheryl Sandberg on as COO because he knew he needed guidance on ways to make Facebook more profitable. Now, while she focusses on ways to bring in revenue, he does what he enjoys: improving the Facebook site.

6)  Gets things done
Have you ever asked yourself how someone gets so much done? I’d be willing to bet that person doesn’t waffle; that he makes decisions and takes action quickly. Look at John Chambers, CEO of Cisco. Not one to delay decision-making, Chambers designed a growth strategy the minute he became Cisco’s CEO in 1995. The company acquired 12 other companies within his first year as leader and has experienced unprecedented growth.

7)  Develops others
Consider Eric Schmidt. Reportedly, Schmidt, now Google’s executive chairman, nurtured a creative culture and promoted team collaboration at the company while serving as CEO. Both help employees develop their skills. No wonder Google keeps such top-notch talent.

8)  Perseverance
To my way of thinking, Ford’s CEO Allan Mulally defines perseverance. In late 2008 our nation's economy — and the auto industry in particular — entered its deepest crisis since the Great Depression. While General Motors and Chrysler accepted government buyouts, Mulally declined. He focused on cutting costs and after three years of losing money, the company posted a profit in 2009.

So there you have eight competencies that help make managers great. There are more, of course, but start with these eight and you can rectify dozens of poor management situations.

Here’s the thing. Managers are responsible for so many critical tasks that if they fail to do their jobs right, the negative effects trickle down quickly.

So take a good look at the job you are doing as manager — or at the job your managers are doing. If you see changes needed, take your cue from John Chambers. Don’t waffle; make the changes quickly.


Your Solution Toolbox: Improving Workplace Compatibility

Measuring What Matters
You’ve heard me say this before: “Job fit” is the most reliable predictor of on-the-job effectiveness.

Do you know how compatible your managers are with their employees? Do your managers understand the dynamics of the supervisor-subordinate relationship?

If you answer, “no,” or “I don’t know” to these two questions, you need to do more than just keep your fingers crossed and hope your managers are working effectively with each of your employees.

Instead, use a manager assessment test like Profiles’ Managerial Fit™ to measure critical workplace compatibility factors between managers and their employees.

Profiles’ Managerial Fit™ is a manager assessment test that will help your managers recognize where their perspectives are similar to those of their employees and where they differ. With this  increased understanding, managers can easily identify areas they need to develop.

Profiles’ Managerial Fit™ measures:
• Self-assurance
• Self-reliance
• Conformity
• Optimism
• Decisiveness
• Objectivity
• Approach to learning

Once you have made the assessment, your managers can do what’s necessary — e.g. take appropriate manager training — to become more competent managers.

If you would like to learn more about Profiles’ Managerial Fit™ and how it can help you measure workplace compatibility in your business, call me today at 952-322-3330 or send an email to mgorski@mgassessments.com.

HR Consulting
Call me, too, if you are looking for professional assistance with your personnel questions. We'll help you learn how to: 

Let’s Talk! We offer a no obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures, and practices. This may help determine what’s missing in your current programs to meet the above recommendations.  Call 952-322-3330 or send an email to mgorski@mgassessments.com.

Finally check out MG assessments on the Web at www.mgassessments.com

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